Protests and riots against the Macron government’s economic policies have been going on in France for the last week. In Paris, the demonstrations have turned violent and police are using tear gas and water cannons to disperse rioters. The demonstrations are referred to as “yellow vest” protests because demonstrators are wearing the yellow vests that French drivers are required by law to carry in their cars as a safety measure.
What is causing the riots? Many Frenchmen are irate because the Macron government has raised taxes on gasoline:
Police fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse protesters in Paris who are angry over rising fuel costs and President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies, the second weekend of “yellow vest” protests that have caused disruption across France.
They are opposed to taxes Macron introduced last year on diesel and petrol which are designed to encourage people to shift to more environmentally friendly transport. Alongside the tax, the government has offered incentives to buy green or electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles in France would run mostly on nuclear energy, which isn’t a bad idea as long as it is price competitive. Obviously, the fact that the government raises taxes on gasoline while offering incentives for electric vehicles demonstrates that nuclear power is not, at this point, competitive with petroleum as a fuel for vehicles.
The unrest is a dilemma for Macron who casts himself as a champion against climate change but has been derided as out of touch with common folk and is fighting a slump in popularity.
Despite calls for calm from the government, the yellow vest protests have spread to French territories abroad, including the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, where cars were set on fire.
The unrest has left two dead and 606 injured in mainland France, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
While the movement, which has no leader, began as a backlash against higher fuel prices, it has tapped into broader frustration at the sense of a squeeze on household spending power under Macron’s 18-month-old government.
Who are the demonstrators?
These are not France’s most marginalised citizens, but those who say they struggle even while working, who feel they’re bearing the brunt of France’s economic problems, while businesses and the rich get tax breaks.
Macron is often described as “pro-business,” which no doubt is true if you are a “green” energy investor. Macron’s “green” energy policies, which favor wealthy investors and virtue-signaling leftists over middle-class French citizens, illustrate the fact that being pro-business is by no means the same as being pro-free enterprise.